Moorcroft's fury as IAAF upholds nandrolone bans

Relations between UK Athletics and its parent body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation, plummeted to a new low last night following the latter's decision to uphold two-year bans on Linford Christie, Gary Cadogan and Doug Walker following positive tests for the banned anabolic steroid, nandrolone.

Relations between UK Athletics and its parent body, the International Amateur Athletic Federation, plummeted to a new low last night following the latter's decision to uphold two-year bans on Linford Christie, Gary Cadogan and Doug Walker following positive tests for the banned anabolic steroid, nandrolone.

The three Britons were cleared by UK Athletics, but following yesterday's announcement that the IAAF arbitration panel had overturned their appeal, the UK Athletics chief executive, Dave Moorcroft, lambasted the ruling as being "fundamentally wrong".

Earlier this year, in the wake of an ever-growing incidence of nandrolone positives, Moorcroft persuaded the IAAF to help fund a research project based at Aberdeen University under the direction of Professor Ron Maughan which, according to a UK Athletics statement yesterday, "clearly shows that nandrolone metabolites may be produced naturally in an athlete's body if that athlete exercises and takes certain legitimate dietary supplements that have been found to contain no prohibited substance". In the light of preliminary findings involving five subjects, UK Athletics also cleared Mark Richardson, the 400m runner, of similar charges last month.

Yesterday's news that Richardson must face an IAAF arbitration that is likely to occur in Sydney at the time the Olympic Games get under way was ominous, both for the athlete, and the Games. "I'm very disappointed by the decision," Moorcroft said yesterday. "What frustrates me is that the IAAF appears to have acknowledged the Aberdeen research does have some validity, but because it is not conclusive the benefit of the doubt is going to the system, rather than the individual athlete. That is fundamentally wrong. What Ron Maughan's work has shown so far is not some kind of weird hypothesis, but something that has been replicated in test conditions. If after another three or four months of research these findings are given greater validity, how the hell can we turn the clock back for the athletes involved? I believe all these nandrolone cases should be suspended pending a full enquiry. This situation calls into question not just the relationship between the IAAF and not just UK Athletics but all domestic federations. I would strongly welcome an independent authority mediating between the two sides."

Christie has been told by the IAAF that the suspension should not prevent him coaching at the Olympics, where he will be overseeing a group of top British athletes including Darren Campbell, Katharine Merry and Jamie Baulch. It was unclear last night, however, whether that state of affairs would be acceptable to the British Olympic Association, whose byelaws ban anyone found guilty of serious doping offences from any Games, or indeed the local authorities in Sydney, who banned Christie from using their facilities earlier this year.

The 1992 Olympic 100m champion has dismissed the IAAF decision. "I have always made it clear that I have no confidence in the IAAF's arbitration process and this simply reaffirms this. I am very disappointed that the tribunal did not feel able to accept the new scientific evidence presented to them. I have never intentionally taken any banned substance." The Aberdeen research, in which Richardson and another volunteer both showed levels of nandrolone above admissible levels when exercising and taking legitimate supplements, was provided with $10,000 by the IAAF, who agreed in principle to contribute more.

But when Richardson's clearance was announced, Professor Arne Ljungqvist, the chairman of the IAAF medical commission, described the results as "irrelevant", adding: "It is nothing. It's a very minor report on a handful of individuals." Speaking on Radio Five Live yesterday, Moorcroft fired another broadside against the Swede. "From day one, Arne Ljungqvist has always said the athletes are guilty... it's been a question of working back from that."

The IAAF bans apply from the date on which positive tests were returned - Cadogan's runs from 28 November 1998, Christie's from 13 February 1999 and Walker's from 1 December 1998.

The lawyer representing Walker, the European 200m champion, has spoken of the young Scot's "devastation" at the IAAF verdict. "Dougie is inconsolable about the decision," Marcel Apfel said. "There is no appeal and Dougie will serve his ban now until 30 November this year and will come back stronger and more determined than ever before."

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